In her third and final try, Hope College heptathlete Jane Pearson realized her goal of claiming NCAA Division III All-American status.
The senior from Lake City, Michigan (Northern Michigan Christian HS) became the fourth different Hope student-athlete to accomplish the feat with a sixth-place finish on Friday at the Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championship in Waverly, Iowa.
Pearson totaled 4,582 points over the seven-event, two-day competition. The top eight finishers earn All-America honors.
“It means a lot. I don’t have the words,” Pearson said of the performance that joined her with the likes of previous Hope All-American heptathletes: Lindsay Lange (2006-08), Kara Vande Guchte (2010) and Kelly Etheridge (1995).
“This was my third time at nationals. Third time is the charm, I guess.”
Hope is tied with 30th place with three points. Junior Erin Herrmann of Wheaton, Illinois (Wheaton-Warrenville South HS) will wrap up the meet for the Flying Dutch on Saturday with the 3,000-meter steeplechase final at 12:45 p.m. Central.
On Friday, Pearson closed the competition with three events. She recorded the fifth-longest javelin throw among heptathletes at 36.19 meters (118 feet, 8 inches). She scored 594 points in the event.
Pearson tied for 12th in the long jump and earned 559 points by clearing 5.0 meters (16-5).
Pearson was 16th in the 800 meters for 640 points with a time of 2 minutes, 34.32 seconds.
Hope coach Kevin Cole said Pearson did what she was capable of doing.
“The key to the heptathlon is being as closer to your best on all your events, and she was,” Cole said. “It kept moving her up.”
This was the third time Pearson had competition in the heptathlon at nationals. She finished 16th as a junior and 18th as a sophomore.
It was a terrific career that started four years ago when Cole asked her if she could high jump and wanted to try the heptathlon.
“It sounded like a challenge and a fun challenge to try out,” Pearson said. “I didn’t think I would make it to nationals.”
Senior Julia Stock of Norton Shores, Michigan (Grand Haven HS) finished 15th in the nation in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA championships. She had a time of 38:19.72 under challenging conditions where five of the 22 runners did not finish the race.
Photo of Jane Pearson by D3Photography